Beware the Towson ticket trapI experienced a most amazing...

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April 06, 1995

Beware the Towson ticket trap

I experienced a most amazing and improbable incident in Towson. I got two traffic tickets for the first time in 50 years. I don't park illegally and I obey traffic laws, so I don't get tickets.

On Jan. 23, I parked near the courthouse. I tried to put a quarter into the parking meter but failed. I tried to put nickels into it, and finally succeeded in getting two in. After more minutes of trying, I got a dime in, for a total of 30 minutes.

It was more of a hassle than it was worth, so I left, planning on rushing my business so as to get back before the time expired.

I returned a few minutes late to find a county cop writing a ticket. I told him about the meter, but when I inserted a quarter, dime and a nickel into the meter as he watched, these coins went in slicker and smoother than any coins in any meter I have ever seen.

I have never seen such a magical transformation of a mechanical device.

My friend assured the police officer he had witnessed the formerly defective meter and was as surprised as I at its transformation.

"Well, it works fine now," the cop said and walked quickly to his car.

When I saw two tickets on my windshield, I called to him about the second ticket. He sprang from his car, took one ticket quickly before I could read it, and said, "I'll take care of this one."

`Wait a minute! What is it?" I demanded.

"Well, it's for an expired license, but you're OK until the end of the month."

He was no rookie fresh from police school. He was middle-aged and acted as if he knew what he was doing. His mistake, coupled with the transformed meter, is surely a remarkable and improbable experience.

If he had not taken back the ticket, I would have paid it, because to go to court I would have to drive a thousand miles.

Between magic parking meters and fines on unexpired license plates, Baltimore County has a gold mine in parking violations.

Edward L. Tottle

Derry, N.H.

First principals

Why is it that when a Baltimore County school has a problem, the Board of Education goes after the teachers?

The two articles reporting problems at Kenwood High School indicate that the problems are not with the classroom teachers but with the school administration and the board bureaucracy.

Who is responsible for setting the tone of the school and creating a positive learning environment, the teachers or the school administration?

If there are absentee problems, whose responsibility is it to attempt to remedy the situation, the teachers or school administration?

If there are discipline problems in a school, who is responsible for creating an atmosphere to resolve these problems, the teachers or the school administration?

Part of the problem with the county schools is the attitude the administrators have toward the teachers, as indicated by the statement made by the northeast area superintendent, Stephen VTC Jones, "The one variable that we can manipulate is the teachers."

One manipulates a puppet, not a teacher -- a college educated individual considered to be a professional.

School administrators have to learn to work as partners with teachers to explore what methods and programs are best for their school.

It is when administrators act in a dictatorial fashion that teacher morale falls and student achievement suffers.

Henry I. Foxman


Misses the mark

Mayor Kurt Schmoke's and Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier's recent comments criticizing the Fraternal Order of Police for conducting a survey of its members completely miss the mark.

Our survey gave voice to the police officers who have long been ignored by political leaders, who only give lip service to the most vital issue of the past decade -- crime.

The result of the FOP's survey indicated that poor morale is a severe problem in the Baltimore City Police Department. To dismiss the effect low morale has on every officer's ability to do his or her job would be a drastic mistake.

Rather than tackling the morale problem, Commissioner Frazier and Mayor Schmoke have chosen to put a political spin on the issues.

In countering complaints about the department's controversial rotation policy, the commissioner has stated publicly that he is willing to accept a reduction in the homicide clearance rate in order to accomplish his goals.

I do not feel the citizens of Baltimore are willing to let as many as 30 murderers a year walk the streets solely for the sake of change.

If Commissioner Frazier and Mayor Schmoke want to take credit for the reduction in crime during the deep freeze of 1994 -- even though neither one made an arrest or put his life on the line -- that's fine.

I only hope both men step forward and take the blame for the increase in shootings and murders which occurred during the first quarter of 1995.

Mayor Schmoke has even criticized police officers for not living in the city.

Several officers killed in the line of duty have lived outside the city. Did they bleed any less, did their widows or children grieve any more?

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